From DBS To NPPV3: Key Documents Unraveled

By now, everyone should know the key skills and personality traits that interpreters need to have. Attention to detail, ability to think quickly, strong grasp of their working languages, a friendly manner, ability to remain calm, professionalism…the list goes on.

What we often get asked about, though, are the more practical elements: what documents does an interpreter need and what will be required of them in order to register with agencies? Below you will find some of the key administrative elements for new interpreters.

  1. The right to work in the UK: Not necessarily relevant for the purposes of obtaining a qualification as this can be done remotely, but it will be needed in order to be able to work and earn legally.
  2. A CV: Do not underestimate the power of a good CV. Many of us have extensive informal experience of utilising our language skills, as well as all the personality and professional skills listed above. Make sure you include these in your CV, especially if you haven’t had much formal interpreting experience.
  3. A DBS check: Previously known as the CRB check, or criminal record checks. There are four types of DBS check, and each type results in a DBS certificate being issued to an individual. Employers can then ask to see the certificate to ensure that they are recruiting suitable people into their organisation. The information contained on each type of check is different, but they all include details of both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings that are held on the Police National Computer. An individual cannot apply for a standard check by themselves, but many LSPs/agencies are able to request one on your behalf (occasionally for a fee). DBS checks need to be renewed every year, so it is definitely worth registering with the renewal service, which costs £12 per year and is a tax-deductible.
  4. UTR (unique tax reference) number: This is a ten-digit code that’s unique to you and issued by the HMRC. It’s intended to identify you or your business personally with HMRC for anything and everything that has to do with your tax obligations. Your UTR number will remain the same throughout your entire life. You’ll need your UTR number to complete self-assessment tax returns and pre-pay taxes in instalments. You can obtain it by registering for self-assessments on the website.
  5. NPPV3: If you hold a level 6 qualification such as the DPSI (Law) or the Level 6 DCI and you want to work as an interpreter for the police, you will have to obtain NPPV3 clearance. NPPV clearance for civilian police jobs is divided into several levels, based on the sensitivity of the materials you’ll be expected to have access to. NPPV3 is the highest level of NPPV clearance, allowing for long-term, frequent and uncontrolled access to Secret level material, as well as occasional access to Top Secret materials. The clearance will stay with you for 5 years and the agency who has the police contract in your area can nominate you, but be prepared – the wait can be as long as 6 months and you will pay £250+.

Want to find out more about becoming an interpreter?

Not sure which qualification you can start with? Then give our friendly team a call on 0203 475 7771 or send us an email to and we will be happy to help.